REVEALED: The number of jobs lost to chicken imports | Fin24

REVEALED: The number of jobs lost to chicken imports

Mar 23 2017 13:42
Liesl Peyper

Cape Town – For every 10 000 tonnes of poultry meat that is imported, South Africa will shed 1 069 direct and indirect jobs, SA Poultry Association (SAPA) CEO Kevin Lovell said on Thursday.

SAPA was one of the stakeholders making submissions to Parliament on the poultry crisis in South Africa.

In its representation, SAPA cited examples of companies retrenching workers, including:

  • Rainbow Chicken, which shed 1 350 workers, including managers, in February;
  • Country Bird, which will close down its Mahikeng abattoir resulting in 963 direct and 1 605 other jobs in total, provided that government intervenes;
  • Mike’s Chickens, which has gone into business rescue;
  • Daybreak, the first significant black-owned producer, which is in major financial difficulty.

Lovell also said South Africa’s poultry industry could create 26 725 direct and indirect jobs if the country refrained from importing any chicken meat whatsoever.

“Chicken imports cannot grow South Africa’s economy,” Lovell said, “and it is destructive to the creation of jobs.”

READ: Fears of jobs bloodbath grow over SA chicken crisis

He also pointed out that imported chicken meat is sold at a price similar to local products. “There are at best short-term consumer benefits, but in the long term there’s no benefit, because if South Africa fails in terms of providing food security the balance of payments will worsen and prices will likely increase.”

Lovell added that the prolonged drought of the past two years, “unwelcome as it may have been”, is not the problem. “Dumping has been, and remains, a problem,” he said.

He recommended that the government-led task team investigating the effect of dumping on the poultry industry reduce chicken imports by at least half.

“The survival of South Africa’s poultry industry, food security, the livelihood of the rural economy and the future of up to 130 000 workers and their families is largely in the hands of government.

“If government helps us survive, we can grow and contribute substantially to the future of our country,” Lovell said.

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